Features

Jamaica Year In Review

Written by Phil Dinham

We did this back in 2000-2001 and I am back with it in 2002.

In a Year when we averaged 3 murders daily and recorded as many as 16 police officers snuffed down in the line of duty by year end, 2002 will be remembered by most as the year when PJ Patterson silenced his critics and shone brightly, arising as a true Jamaican prince. Its a year when the flood rains came and when outstanding sons of the soil departed the fields and trenched onward to a new land.

The year started with much anticipation about when the Prime Minister would fly the gate. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II would have made a courtesy call on the Island while celebrating 50 years on England’s Royal Throne, in her Golden Jubilee.

By July, the World Junior Games and one man, Usian Bolt, would steal the headlines, as Kingston pulled off the Most Successful Junior Games of all time.

Independence 40 and New Kingston’s Emancipation Park was a delight for most Jamaicans to see on an August mawnin. The Thankgiving celebrations and street jam sessions across the Island would be memorable, for our people danced, jumped and pranced, basking in their national identity with much confidence and appreciation to their forefathers and great God, for allowing them to enjoy much success at a mature age.

By October the gates were well open and with Jimmy Carter and Caffe watching on, the 13th Jamaican Parlimentary election ensued. The polls said it would be close but no such thing happened. After all the heavy spending and crowded mass rallies in Town Square and Jam Centre, by 9pm on October 16th 2002, it was official, the world had gotten the news Seaga dead as a nail, loser one more time. With a reduced majority, the socialists were making history again right throughout the english speaking Caribbean. The victory was received in good taste and the country moved on.

At year end, the international economic ratings became sour, US 1-$50 J, taxes were on the rise and the general mood of the country was one of what next, as their was talk of job cuts coming for the public sector as Davies tried to curtail the debt, and balance his budgets.

All parties, including the NDM with the exclusion of the UPP, would make it clear that they would be at the gates come March 2003 when the local Government elections become due. We surely will be logging on and watching to see the progression in 2003.

Let’s name the winners and losers in our parochial Jamaican political and business circles. I’ll start off with my biggest Female losers and winners in 2002. I’ll give my reasons and you will follow back a me.

Yaah here goes… Loser big time:

Antoinette Haughton Cardenas.

Haughton dash in har lot when she resigned as Radio Jamaica’s most popular talk show host, ranking in the top two nationally behind Perkins Online, to lead her fledgling newbie political party United P. Not only did the P. fail miserably in winning a seat but Haughton herself lost out while gaining only a 100+ vote. She wasted her deposit and was never in the running, whether publicity wise or charisma wise. The woman seemed confused after making much about what she wanted to achieve.I also think the worst moment for Antoinette was when she went to Port Antonio and called the people animals. She also was seen at 100 Lane making a spectacle of a tragedy. Undoubtedly Haughton will be remembered as the woman who started an un-democratic party, for she never once spoke about nomination of candidates, or electing of officers to serve the party. If we are to watch her steps carefully, we will see a woman who was leading but didn’t necessarily have the right to lead. Or did she?

Another loser in 2002 was Portia Simpson Miller. Simpson presided over a JTB that may have had its’ most disturbing season yet. Hoteliers, JHTA, JTB officials were at loggerheads for months, without a word from the minister. When she did speak her candor was off color, not the sparkling Portia who was being groomed for higher office. In 2002, Portia lost all her punch and ended up in a relegated position by election night, as the masses lost confidence in her stewardship. A JTB audit leading into election and massive decline in the tourism products, promotions and advertising, has left Jamaica in an unfortunate position to say the least. Mrs. Simpson Miller while trying to fight for the comrades, lost her sense of hospitality as she told the JLP’s Ed Bartlett to step aside, as she had the master plan and advisory board to progress. Yep, Lady P. said is she running the Tourism ship and no one should question har. In the final analysis, she was left to eat her words and is currently just barely gasping for breath, having swam a shore when the ship began to sink.

Winners for 2002 are as follows… Yep, yuh know who I going for…

It’s a woman who I wouldn’t say I admire, for she seemed arrogant in the past but got her work done in fine style. She was rewarded for her efforts by the Party and Prime Minister. Indeed Maxine Henry Wilson, the newly appointed Minister of Education, was a work horse. Battling for her political life in 2002, she batted well for herself, the PNP and the country. Upholding fairplay, while running a winning machinery. The PNP Campaign Manager, General Secretary and Former Minister of Information, not only secured an unprecedented Fourth term for the PNP and a third crowning for the black prince, but she managed to win her seat as MP comfortably and swept away all the anxious moorings of her past. If you remember her humble beginnings in the left wing of the PNP in the 1970’s, you will be able to, like me recognize that this woman has come full circle and is now applying leadership of class. Today she is seen as one of the brightest, if not most mature senior leaders of the Party and Government. My big winner in 2002 is the rising Champion of the Peoples National Party Maxine Henry Wilson.

My runner up in 2002 is a CEO par excellance, having taken on the responsibility of leading her late Moms’ dream company. Donna Duncan-Scott not only continued on her personal succes of late 2001, but also continued to lead a company that is on track to becoming a big financial player in the Jamaican Money Market. It’s a company that is not only super profitable but is eyeing the option of becoming Public. Mrs. Duncan-Scott in 2002 was upclose and personal with Jamaicans, talking about her childhood and the complexity of being an abused child in a family that was in turmoil. She treks a path to 2002 living with thoughts of being a modern day Jezebel for over 30 years of her life. JAMAICA Money Market Brokers Ltd (JMMB) recorded excellent financial results ending 2001, showing profits after tax of $331.9 million, an increase of 38.4 per cent, over the same period the previous year. In 2002 they were up to 552.3 million. Impressive….. In spite of the turbulence in the financial sector in the mid-1990s. JMMB continues the trend of maximization of profits, increasing the bottomline substantially in every year since their inception. The courage and strength of character in Donna, as a woman, is phenomenal. She is determined to remain optimistic and confident, as she leads a once small but now budding power- house of Jamaican business. Donna is also very passionate about Jamaica, hence her involvement in groups such as Jamaicans for Justice and Transformation Jamaica.

The Peoples Parliament with my Male winners and losers for 2002.

This is a little more tricky and may rattle a few nerves but then an opinion is just that, My Opinion, so let’s get cracking…

Losers first…

Without a doubt the biggest loser in 2002 in the yard, was the Very Deacon Ronnie Thwaites. Yes, this was a man who was seen with lots of integrity, a Rhodes Scholar, distinguished Lawyer, member of the Clergy and popular talk show host for decades. Yeah, I remember watching him on Round Table Talk, JBC Television, listened to him on Public Eye, before he went on to do his own thing, Thwaites and Company and Power 106FM Independent Talk. In 1997, he was the talk of the town when he seized the vacant central Kingston seat. The Reverend Garnett Roper and Victor Cummings were also hounding the PNP HQ seeking to be selected as the candidate. It’s funny because both men would replace Thwaites when he became rocked by scandal. Yes Siree… Thwaites made the headlines not for his usual sweet soothsayer voice of lets work together and politicians must be men of integrity chatter. Indeed it was investigative journalism or suss journalism that caught the deacon when Mark Wignall, dug up the skeletons and paraded them in the press. By night fall the good Deacon was on radio refuting the allegations, even when the published piece didn’t even call any names. That week in July turned sour grapes for Mass Ronnie, as between a 5 million dollar cheque that was on desk at Postal Corporation of Jamaica, seizure of a widows’ estate and use of Catholic property for collateral, the man of the cloth was left spinning. In speedy consultation with advisors, they nudged him to quit as MP and not seek re-election. Yes, a sad story I thought, for anyone who has watched this gentleman’s career, would have felt the deadly blow of scandal and shame. This is a man who always take the high road in discussions of national importance and was seen with tail between legs scampering for cover.

Garnett Roper would have replaced him on Independent Talk ahead of the election, as Thwaites took a leave of absence from his practice as journalist/talkshow host, as well as a leave from duties at his home church off Old Hope Road. Victor Cummings would be the other man who would replace him as MP in the Central Kingston Seat and as they say the rest is history. A big loser…and a casualty, thanks to the efforts of a hungry journalist. If last Sundays 8-12-02 Gleaner story is to be factual, we hear that Thwaites has his eye set on milking more cows as he has expressed wishes to represent the PNP in the upcoming local government election. The report stated Ronald Thwaites, is eyeing a seat in the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) Council Chamber. Mr. Thwaites resigned in July amid allegations of financial improprieties, “I am interested in serving the people and if I am asked and considered, I would respond accordingly.” Mr. Thwaites said.

Loser number 2 in 2002 is Mr Renato Decordova Valentino Adams.

Yaah, for more than a year now, one man has been solidly in the picture, headline after headline, soundbite after sound bite, taking Kingston and all Jamaica by storm. In the early part of the year he was interviewed by senior Journalist Cliff Hughes Live on CVM’s Question Time. He has been trashed in public hearings on Perkins Online and the guys at RJR even while playing soft with him found his ineptness to be trying the nations patience. By year end the people who he work with were asking for his head following on the legion of crys from the ghettos. The man has 34 years of service to his career but has been a genuine failure within the last months, his deportment and communications skills are weak. But even more daunting is the fact that crime remained heavy under his care. The press call him the highly popular, but I think its a poor prognosis for what you have parading is a man who in all honesty is overwelmed by the monster of crime and it is Jamaicans who are suffering from his negligence.

He might be fearless, but managing the Crime Management Unit in 2002 did not come off any less deadly than 2001. We saw days and days of more blood, and lifeless bodies pouring into Kingstons’ morgue. As the murder count stood at a constant 3 persons a day. The fearless seemed clueless and suspect, when posed with questions about solving crime. For even as we speak extortion racketeers maintain their prescence in downtown Kingston. Every major urban centre is rocked with thieves and even guarded businessmen and police officers are among the casualties. It’s no wonder the comissioner has reappointed Keith Trinity Gardener, combing the streets with much success in what the commissioner is calling a new crime plan. Some 246 roadblacks have been established Island-wide, and in just 14 days the new crime plan have recovered 26 firearms, including high-powered weapons and 98 rounds of ammunition. Shottas and street thugs with murder charges are being arrested as well as those who are illegal gun runners. One wonders why there is talk of a new crime plan and why was the old one so poor that it couldn’t find the guns but would cause so much controversy as police would be heard of shooting indiscriminately at large crowds. Renato went To Spanish Town and detained 40 men and found no ammo or guns, he went through Mountain View, Western Kingston and Grants Pen complaining about everything that was wrong but could not stop the gangs. Being fearless is just being brave, it however says nothing about other skills and abilities that a crime fighter will need to carry out their job effectively. For if SSP Adams was promoted on managerial merit, then he would be able to run a top class crime management unit. But history has catalogued his errors, I know Mr. Gardener has specific orders that will not be similar to Senior Superintendent Adams. Yet Mr. Gardener sounds much like a sensible man…”Criminals are moving from one spot to the next and we can curtail their movements by having a presence on the roads.” Gardner said yesterday, while rounding up scores of motorists for deriliction of duty. It’s a fresh start one may say, in an area that we really are tired of hearing about, for crime did take its toll in our days, weeks and months in 2002.

Loser number three was Colin Campbell. He came into 2002 having fumbled and screwed up a number of things including the Telecoms bill, allowing Cable and Wireless to remain a big monopoly of land lines for longer than need be, in a liberalized deregulation environment. The then Junior Minister of Ministry of Industry and Commerce was sent there after a lukewarm performance over at the local government in 2000. In late 2001, leading into Paulwells’ 2001 nightmarish Netserve scandal, the Prime Minister rescued Colin and gave him the Information Minister post. This, as the then IM Maxine Henry Wilson took up full duties as PNP Campaign Manager. He, (the young and once talented communications media wiz kid of the JBC stables, started off shakey while being plagued by constituency upheavals over prize land squabbles and crime profiling gangs in 2002) never made back enough ground in the public arena by election mawnin. The boyish charm of 1993 and 1997 wore off in 2002 and Colin Campbell lost big time to the JLP’s Charles in a once faithful PNP ground in St. Andrews’ back hills.

Our big winners in 2002…are as follows:

It’s a group of men who wanted to overthrow the autocratic leader who seh a one Don alone can run tings in his paartey. Yep, he told dem to light a song and sing a sankey and find dem way home. The journey did kind a long but they made it in fine style.

The GANG of Five, exclusive of Dougie Vaz and Errol Anderson are my big winners in 2002. The rogue members, Karl Samuda, Pearnel Charles, Edmund Bartlett and yuh can add Bruce inna it because though he was not fully labelled a Gang of Five member in the beginning, he did challenge Seaga from outside the circle and many believe if it wasn’t for his reunited stands with the Labourites ahead of the October 16 polls, then the JLP would never have been able to close the gap and remain a formidable force in Jamaican politics. So again, we have Pearnel, a man who went to Clarendon as a loser after two big elections and delivered the bacon. Karl Samuda, dogged as ever a strong man on commerce and community issues. Ed Bartlett, the Tourism shadow minister, who would not give Portia a break, eventually wearing her down and out. He, it’s accepted, was the man who allowed the JLP to kick out the PNP incumbents in the West.

Guess who dat side a Golding changing color as well…Lizard an company. Bruce Golding was in the wilderness for over 7 years, leading a formidable third party, then jumping around calling talk shows, until them sorry for him and give him a job to host a show. Then came the elections and the olive branch. Today he is a JLP senator, now well placed to succeed Mr Seaga in the future. Near or far, it’s hard to tell really. For Seaga is holding on, focusing on the local elections due next March 2003. Then he will make his next move from there, strategy and plans fi end up back a Jamaica House. Can the Gang of Five oust him or will he go gracefully? For if the Labourites win, Seaga would relish the race to the next General Elections facing a new PNP leader in Phillips. Big stakes for Seaga to stay on longer. Bruce will move to secure the gates though and Audley Shaw, Mike Henry and Pearnel Charles will wager in on the most suitable post there is left behind for them to help run things at the top. Remember in September, the stone polls said Audley Shaw will be the man to succeed Seaga as he has a comfortable lead over Pearnel second and Bruce way behind in third. So yes, the Gang Of FIVE are ALIVE and they were the BIG winners in 2002, finding their way home afterall.

My second Winner in 2002, is a obvious winner, most will agree.

It’s a Royal Prince. He has stuck to his guns and made some remarkable comebacks during his tenure. Every report for the last 10 years point to a sense of security on the part of the people with this prince. Even as they call him Farmer Joe, or Pgay, they still were confident of his abilities to lead a team that would perform. With him as Captain most Jamaicans knew that he had a greater chance of leading the PNP’s second 11 against the JLP’s first 11, muchless their third eleven. PJ’s speeches and his calculating mind, have been above average for any politician I have seen in Jamaica. He has masked many of the problems from a strategic point of view and if the PNP manages to hold on to power even after 2004, in terms of polls and macro perspective, it would have been at the hands of this shrewd Jamaican Politician.

The PNP remain a viable entity not because of the ghost of N. Washington Manley or M. Norman Manley but it has been because of PJ Pattersons’ stewardship of the PNP and his efforts at Jamaica House. Never in Jamaica’s history have we seen a Prime Minister that has so cleverly played with language and plan his every move delicately, from Shell Waiver, through Live and Direct Forums, fainting spells, Values and attitudes campaign, gas riots, Netserv scandal, Danny Melville, Bunting, Ennis, Thwaites, Blythe Resignation. Standing With KD Knight and swapping him for Peter at the right time. PJ is a career Politician par excellence and will go down in Caribbean History as one of the best organizers of Micro Roots Political machinery. You can blame him all you want for the economy and the crime, but his legacy is going to scream pass all of that, his non-conflicting, non-combative personality/character, cramped Seaga’s style in 2002. Seaga was used to the bickering spells he would have with Michael Manley.

PJ’s modest awareness of Jamaica’s strengths and weakness on an organizational level has allowed him to not only keep the PNP together, which even Micheal Manley had a problem doing but PJ the man with all his talent and courage has displayed a tenacity to hold Jamaica together even when all parties, all stakeholders, said it would self destruct. This is not a Prime Minister who you have heard has been involved with the Shower Posse or who has been so ruthless and arrogant as to tell people that is him run things and he will decide the future of the party or which candidate will run in which seat or who must succeed him. He has followed the rule of law in as much as he could and has been as deliberate in his persona as he could be. I think he followed the career script well and that has been what Jamaicans admire about this leader. He may not be the brightest in terms of theoretical skill and specialist knowledge but his roundedness and ability to sculpt the machinery that manages the country is above average. His ability to accept failures for what they are and starting again towards trying to improve on his past, is a mark of PJ’s patience and diligence. It was a PNP machinery of organization, cooperation and coalition that made sure Manley went back to Jamaica House and that has kept them in government for 13 years. Democratic Socialism is dead and yet the PNP who adopted a liberal agenda, has managed to craft their words well through this patriototic statesman and thus it renders him a progressive politician.

Fidel Castro with all the respect that he has gained, may have done Cuba and the people of Cuba more harm than good as a career politician. PJ Patterson as a Prime Minister has done more for our professional image as a nation in a global village than we will give him credit for. Look at big countries with huge wealth, like Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil. Look at Trinidad and Panday’s stewardship within the last several years. The T/T PM had a combative spirit that caused more tensions and racial misgiving and left Trinidads’ image as a nation battered.

Jamaica is not an easy country to lead and while I personally don’t like calculating minds, as they seem to lack genuineness, I am starting to reconsider. As when a job is there to be done, taking off and landing the craft safely is what is important. No one mans’ personality or career should be responsible for causing pain to both those who are closely aligned to them or even those who they have never met. PJ Patterson has batted as best he could as a statesman and as a comrade and I personally am prepared to say that he has been the difference in Jamaican politics Since 1992. A teflon leader, a dogged oppourtunist, he know when to stand up for sovereignty, even in an era when those who have the most power in the world can crush us. He knows that consultation is important with the people but having a referendum when the polls are close would be poor judgement.

Again I say categorically, that PJ Patterson has made the difference and the idea that the PNP has brighter minds though it may linger, was not what was squarely on the minds of Jamaicans when they went to the polls. Politics in season touches everyones life. A politician to me is like a professional athlete or sportsman, you hire them to do the job of keeping the club together while advancing and they either do it or we hire a new person. If Jamaicans were so appauled by PJ’s leadership, they would have pushed the panic button and washed him away. In 2002 it didn’t happen for he, the once fresh prince and author of Black Man Time, won a majority and a mandate that has gone down in history. Third term, fourth term…no other leader has silenced their opponent with such modesty in the Caribbean. So Percival Noel James Patterson is my choice as male winner in 2002. 10 years as Premier. In his victory speech on election night, the PNP Leader and Prime Minister, continued in his magnanimous ways and so we remember the words he said and will continue to watch him lead from the front in 2003.

A quote from PJ’s Victory Speech:

“I believe that being the first Prime Minister to win a third consecutive term is not only a historical privilege but it also imposes on me a historical responsibility. That responsibility has to be discharged by leading the charge for unity, for harmony, for peace, for progress and for making sure that our motto is fulfilled — “Out of Many, One People”. Patterson also told hundreds of jubilant supporters who converged outside the party’s headquarters on Old Hope Road in Kingston that October night, that they should regard the success at the polls as not only a victory for the party but a victory for Jamaica. At the same time, he called for peace and urged supporters to avoid confrontation with persons from the opposing party, while placing a temporary ban on celebratory motorcades, stating that he wanted to prevent “any form” of provocation or political hostility. “Tonight is a night when we give thanks ….we give thanks first and foremost to the Almighty,” he began. “I would like us not to regard this as a campaign between victor and vanquished but something which enables all of us to unite in building a better Jamaica of economic prosperity and of social harmony,” Patterson told his supporters. “I cannot concede the fact that I would have preferred a larger margin,” he continued, “but God works in a mysterious way. And I believe the message that we must derive is that all of us — government side and opposition side — must work together in unity in order to build a better Jamaica,” he added.

Winners and losers in Business in 2002

Losers

  • Centenniel Wireless
    Cable and Wireless
    Hot102 FM

Winners

  • Grace Kennedy
    Island Grill
    Air Jamaica

People to watch in 2003:

  • Dennis Morrison, the new Chairman of the JTB.
    Aloum Assamba, Minister Of Tourism.
    Let’s see if she can keep up the jigg..heh. Negotiation, Assamba, you have to sharpen those skills and nuh hang yuh head in shame like friends of mine : )
    Delano Franklyn State Minister in Foreign Ministry.
    Micheal Lee Chin NCB Chairman.
    PETER PHILLIPS – Minister Of Security and PNP front runner in presidency succession.
    David Panton JLP Senator.

Also, we would like to salute and remember some great men who left us behind as they departed for shut eye country in peace.

  • Hugh Crosskill – Veteran Journalist and Broadcaster for all times.
    Calvin Bowen – Veteran Journalist
    Iam Ramsay – Distinguished Jamaican Barrister
    Dwight Whylie – Veteran Jamaican Broadcaster
    Eric Coverly – Jamaican patriot of the Arts and Theatre.
    Safa Asontuwa – self-proclaimed psychic
    Archbishop Samuel Carter

Again we will miss them all, persons who contributed to the quality of life in Jamaica in their own ways.

We also remember the World Junior Games, a magnificent feat we performed in hosting the best World Junior Games in history, right back home at Kingstons’ National Stadium. Vin Lawrence of the UDC, along with the Jaaa’s must be remembered for putting together a world class performance. Jamaica’s Usain Bolt became the youngest world junior gold medalist when winning the 200m in Kingston. In 2003 the World Netball Tournament will be in Kingston, Jamaica. Reggae Girls will try to move up the scale currently ranked 2nd in the world behind Australia in the under 21 category the girls are shooting to cop their first World title. Will you be there….?? Yaah, Jamaica is the venue for the next World Netball Championship, which will be held 11 – 20 July 2003 in Kingston. Approximately 10,000 people play netball in Jamaica and it is played in the majority of schools. It is the number one women’s sport in Jamaica. So come join us in Kingston in 2003 for more sports and more Jamaican success. Click here for more Info http://www.worldnetball2003.org/

 

Are you a Kingstonian born and grown or a lover of this city in distress? We invite you to drop us a line by e-mail and tell us what’s most disturbing about Kingston to you or might you propose solutions to the challenges the inner city communities face? We welcome your comment at: [email protected]

About the author

Phil Dinham